Friday, May 26, 2017

Celebration of 50 Years of The Mersey Sound (readings and pop up reading by Roger McGough) (set list)

Published on May 25th 1967, this influential collection of poetry by Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten is one of the biggest selling poetry anthologies in the world. To commemorate 50 years since its publication, Edge Hill students hosted a day-long poetry event on 25th May as part of Tonight at Noon, a city-wide series of events celebrating the legendary Liverpool poets.

Celebrating the poetry of Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten a special one night only reading (aren't they all?) from The Mersey Sound, with creative writing students from Edge Hill University, plus special guests performing original poetry. The special guests - we thought - were Tom Jenks, Mark Greenwood, Patricia Farrell and myself. We were wrong!

Yesterday was a frustrating day spent marking, and trying to resign, too much time on Twitter, a hot day too. Everybody complaining about the heat, because we’re not used to it. To the Everyman for Bill Bulloch’s reading, downstairs. We chatted to the super-organiser of Tonight at Noon Catherine Marcangeli, and Phil Jeck, before descending. Students from Edge Hill read well, most reading from the Merseysound anthology (whose 50th anniversary it was that day!) but Bill and Susan Comer read responses to the anthology. Mark Greenwood, Tom Jenks. Patricia read her conceptual write-through of Henri’s ‘Me’. But the big ‘surprise’ for us (but not for the BBC film crew, the whole thing staged for a programme to go out on – unthinkably – Mc Gough’s 80th birthday in November! he looks so young) was the sudden ‘pop up’ reading by Roger McGough himself, who also answered questions (well) at the end.

I was the graveyard shift reader. I read 3 of my motivist poems, the Liverpool ones. They were published by Shadowtrain which has disappeared off line, so I've printed them below. I like them. 'Motivist Poems' was the invented form of Michael Egan, a modern Liverpool poet.

Then I read ‘The Batwoman Sutras’, a story I’d rescued and restored for the occasion. It’s a fragmented account of a young female poet (hence the dedication to Tina Morris) during Ginsberg’s visit to Liverpool.

I talked to Roger after and he said that he was around in Liverpool during the visit in June 1965, but he had less to do with it than Adrian and Brian, as my story suggests. We talked a little about Morris and Cunliffe and about Bruce Wilkinson’s book on the Blackburn scene (which deserves a post of its own soon), and about Horovitz … He told me Spike Hawkings had died.

Patten, Catherine Marcangeli, and McGough earlier this month...

Bill Bulloch, the organiser of the reading, who also read his original responses to the book, said:

 “Being involved with the celebration is a real privilege. The Mersey Sound inspired me to become a writer and, 50 years on, still resonates as clearly now for me as a scouser and a poet. It will be great to be able to perform in the footsteps of my literary heroes.” Little did he think he'd be performing alongside one of those heroes.

The Liverpool Motivist Poems 

the split-pea eyelids of the nymph summon you slyly

the floating wave of her pale body rests
breasts small far apart low her legs entangled
fleshy fingers nestle in the cleft of her thighs

cupids pipe sweet nothing but fountains of love
tickling breeze stirs apples ripe for plucking rhyming the decorative rim
cracked oil on panel is the net that binds her hair

legend tells you she’s sleeping but she’s not

(Lukas Cranach the Elder)

she rises from the ugliest chair in the decade

breasts pendulous adjusting suspender straps with both hands her
face a wave of peroxide shaken to her thick shoulder back-parlour
pornotopia for any adolescent spooking the Iron Curtain of undress  

her legs chunky in micro-mesh knees scraped with abrasions female labour
the shovelling of ashes the polishing of doorsteps ensanguined and lethal     
the aura of Birdseye Minted Garden Peas around Ubu and Cranach’s nymph

postcard proportions in the era of mechanical reproduction

(Adrian Henri)

a gust of chip wrappers attacked by killer gulls

the she-male in high heels stoops beneath a candyfloss bee-hive
Nefertiti kohl on mandrill face with Kathy Kirby lips
sucks a dark pint of Cains bitter through a pink straw

the raven bar-maid’s tattoo peeps beneath her t-shirt she stretches for a glass
we would have to write with milk on frost to calibrate her vanishing point
drunks would dance for her through steam in the dying fountain

the deserted gulf between after-hours municipal gothic

What about doing this in bronze on the very spot (which has NOT changed) at all? The Scaffold on Hope St...

Tonight at Noon, named after the first Adrian Henri poem in the collection, is a series of exhibitions and events organised by Catherine, designed to shine a spotlight on a piece of work which captured the mood of the Sixties and brought poetry down from the shelf to the street. Running from Wednesday 12 April to Saturday 15 July, it forms a key part of Liverpool’s 67-17: 50 Summers of Love celebrations.